Micro-population is a concept introduced by Maly and Varis (2015) to make sense of group construction and identity formation in times of digitalization and (neoliberal) globalization. According to them, micro-populations are the material expression of temporary and emerging micro-hegemonies. They group people together by their ‘style’, by the places where they hang out and the places where you can’t find them.
What is a micro-population?
In their paper on the 21st century hipster, Maly and Varis (2015) argue that “the world has become more complex due to new kinds of migration patterns and mobilities, the influence of new communication technologies such as the Internet, as well as the neoliberal logic of consumption and commodification. Culture, as a result, is a complex translocal and polycentric affair”. They claim that the 'hipster is a perfect instantiation of this: a translocal, polycentric, layered and stratified micro-population that is not only visible in style and (both local and translocal, and online and offline) infrastructures, but also constantly (re)produced through identity-authenticity discourses.'
In the understanding of Maly and Varis, micro-populations are the material expression of temporary and emerging micro-hegemonies. They group people together by their ‘style’, by the places where they hang out and the places where you can’t find them. Maly and Varis stress that
"(...) for research to be able to describe present-day cultural phenomena such as the hipster, we need to attend to all these aspects in their local and global materialisations: the identity indexicals that produce ‘authenticity’ as members of specific populations, the accompanying authenticity discourse, as well as the material (online and offline) infrastructures, and the consequent material effects in (e.g. urban) spaces they entail. It is only through such an analysis that present-day (translocal) cultural forms such as the hipster become understandable."
Maly, I. & Varis, P. (2015). The 21st-century hipster: On micro-populations in times of superdiversity. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 1-17. DOI: 10.1177/1367549415597920